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Ann Emerg Med. 2016 Oct;68(4):492-500.e6. doi: 10.1016/j.annemergmed.2016.04.033. Epub 2016 May 27.

Frequency of Alcohol Use Among Injured Adult Patients Presenting to a Ghanaian Emergency Department.

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Department of Emergency Medicine, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana.
Medical School, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI. Electronic address:
Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.



Injuries are the cause of almost 6 million deaths annually worldwide, with 15% to 20% alcohol associated. The frequency of alcohol-associated injury varies among countries and is unknown in Ghana. We determined the frequency of positive alcohol test results among injured adults in a Ghanaian emergency department (ED).


This is a cross-sectional chart review of consecutive injured patients aged 18 years or older presenting to the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital ED for care within 8 hours of injury. Patients were tested for presence of alcohol with a breathalyzer or a saliva alcohol test. Patients were excluded if they had minor injuries resulting in referral to a separate outpatient clinic, or death before admission. Alcohol test results, subject, and injury characteristics were collected. Proportions with 95% confidence intervals were calculated.


Injured adult patients (2,488) presented to the ED from November 2014 to April 2015, with 1,085 subjects (43%) included in this study. Three hundred eighty-two subjects (35%; 95% confidence interval 32% to 38%) tested alcohol positive. Forty-two percent of men (320/756), 40% of subjects aged 25 to 44 years (253/626), 42% of drivers (66/156), 42% of pedestrians (85/204), 49% of assault victims (82/166), 40% of those seriously injured (124/311), and 53% of subjects who died in the ED (8/15) had positive results for presence of alcohol.


The frequency of alcohol-associated injury was 35% among tested subjects in this Ghanaian tertiary care hospital ED. These findings have implications for health policy-, ED- and legislative-based interventions, and acute care.

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